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Seeking impact through storytelling

For those of us working with emotions, empathy and change, measuring the impact of a programme within structured frameworks can be challenging because the social world is chaotic, messy and ever-changing.

Mondy Jera, Executive Researcher based in Wellington, carried out an evaluation project with City Housing’s Community Action Programme (CAP). City Housing manages Wellington City Council’s social housing stock, which is currently undergoing major rennovations over the next 20 years to seismic strenghthen and modernise the buildings. Alongisde the structural rejuvenation, the CAP team aims to strengthen the community by incresing tenant resilience and wellbeing, decreasing social isolation, offering opportunities for tenant learning and development and building and/or regenerating community facilities.

This evaluation was commissioned to see whether and how the CAP activities were having an impact upon the tenants, and if CAP was effective in meeting its aims. The Most Signifiance Change (MSC) technique, devised by Rick Davies and Jess Dart, was chosen because this approach was well suited to the ethos of community development. The MSC outlines a method to collect stories of positive impact directly from the participants of a programme. The collected stories are then put through a process of vetting and voting with managers and key stakeholders to find the ‘winning’ stories that are the best exemplars of positive programme impact.

Mondy said, ‘we expected to hear stories of personal transformation, but they were vastly more powerful than we ever anticipated’. The story vetters were equally impressed by the findings – for some stakeholders, it would have been the first time they heard the voices of the tenants, and they were amazed at the power of the CAP team to change lives.

To learn more about the impact we found, please watch the series of videos:




Mondy is delivering a workshop with Rosie Gallen, Manager of the Community Action Programme, about the programme evaluation entitled, Evaluating the Soft Stuff, at the 2015 Community Development Conference.

For detailed information about the MSC technique, click here.

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